This interesting article from CMSwire summarizes a new Forrester report titled SharePoint and BPM — Finding The Sweet Spot. They reach a similar conclusion as in my What is SharePoint post regarding using it for BPM or an application framework: that while SharePoint does a lot of things well, it becomes brittle when you try to use it for managing more than simple business processes.
According to CMSwire, Forrester offers several reasons why SharePoint 2010 offers limited support for BPM, including:
- Out of the box, SharePoint processes are simple, so seamless business processes require custom coding.
- To build a real business process application, there’s a lot of custom coding you will have to do and that takes time, costs money and introduces a number of problems related to the flexibility of the SharePoint application.
- Because SharePoint can only offer procedural-based processes without complex coding, it can’t easily offer the ability to adapt processes to handle exceptions in typical BPM implementations.
- Processes are constrained by Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). When developers build process-oriented applications that leverage WF, they often find themselves hard-coding static, brittle interfaces that add to the total cost of ownership (TCO)
- Site collections, while great for helping organize content and information, can be a major problem when developing business processes that cross organizational boundaries and complicate multi-departmental processes.
To this list, I’ll add a couple more observations:
- SharePoint largely ignores BPMS functionality around:
1. business activity monitoring (BAM) and business event support,
2. simulation and optimization, and
3. business rule management
- Because process configuration is done inside SharePoint Designer, it isolates the business from design that can help feed and tune execution
And this why even Microsoft encourages finding an integrated partner application to fill an Enterprise BPM requirement. Some of the vendors that offer solutions that work in varying degrees with SharePoint include AgilePoint, Global 360, K2, MetaStorm, and Nintex. So, before launching a BPM initiative on top of SharePoint, investigate BPM vendors and how well they enhance BPM for SharePoint. You will likely end up spending less time and money and having a more rich and agile solution when all is done.